The revolving door between News International and No. 10

Information obtained through Parliamentary questioning on Prime Ministerial business has revealed a striking pattern amongst No 10 special advisers meeting with Rupert Murdoch's News International newspapers and media outlets.

Information obtained through Parliamentary questioning on Prime Ministerial business has revealed a striking pattern amongst No 10 special advisers meeting with Rupert Murdoch’s News International (NI) newspapers and media outlets. The data, cataloguing external meetings held between special advisors and the media, and ministers and the media, show a clear pattern of preference towards Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

The most high-profile example is Andrew Coulson, Director of Communications at No. 10, who had external meetings with News Corp outlets on four occasions from May 27 to August 14 – 50 per cent of all his declared meetings in that period.

In May, the release shows that David Cameron met with Rupert Murdoch soon after the election (where Murdoch was alleged to have snuck into No 10 via a back door). The data was obtained by Tom Watson MP, who submitted requests for “office external meetings, overseas travel, hospitality and gifts” received by all government ministers and special advisers.

From May 13 to July 31, all registered special advisors at No 10 had 11 meetings with NI outlets – whilst only meeting with Channel 4 once in that period, the BBC six times, The Guardian five times, The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday five times, and only had an external meeting with the Telegraph, a traditional Tory paper, twice.

The information reveals that No 10. currently houses 19 special advisers, despite pledging to reduce their numbers in the run-up to the election to ‘cut the cost of politics’. Elsewhere – at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, ministers met NI papers and outlets on three occasions between May 13 and July 31, on top of one lecture and one additional lunch.

Kenneth Clarke MP, Secretary of State for Justice, received hospitality at The Times on June 24, and again on July 7. His Minister of State, Lord McNally also had lunch with The Times on July 26. At Nick Clegg’s office, special adviser Lena Pietsch met with The Times on one occasion and over at the Department of Transport, special adviser Paul Stephenson met the media on four occasions in July – meeting The Sun once.

At the Department for Communities and Local Government, there was one external meeting between Eric Pickles and NI, this time with the News of the World. Francis Maude and Baroness Warsi (at the Cabinet Office) held external meetings with The Sunday Times and News of the World during the same period. Foreign minister David Liddington received two hospiltality dinners from NI newspapers in July and special adviser David Hass had a lunch courtesy of The Sun on July 29. At the Home Office, special advisers Nick Timothy and Fiona Cummingham met with NI outlets on three occasions in May.

There were no meetings between between ministers or special advisers and NI at the Department for International Development (DfID), while the following departments have, as yet, not released details of their ministerial and special adviser meetings: are the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the Northern Ireland Office, the Scotland Office and the Wales Office.

Crucially, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has also  yet to release its external meetings – the department, with minister Vince Cable, that will ultimately make a decision on the NI takeover of BskyB.

Tom Watson MP, who requested the information, was critical of the way in which No 10 released the data on special advisers and ministerial meetings. He said that the information was being released intentionally late to minimise wider coverage and scrutiny. He said:

It makes it hard for lobby journalists to write the story. We’re going to publish every document we find but the House of Commons library have not been given them yet. Some departments have published their lists and we’re tracking them down for you. Hope you find it useful.”

• All the data is available on Tom Watson’s website.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today. 

29 Responses to “The revolving door between News International and No. 10”

  1. Labour Uncut

    RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10 http://bit.ly/a1KveM

  2. Shamik Das

    Who controls Cameron? RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10: http://bit.ly/93HSrO

  3. yorkierosie

    RT @LabourUncut: RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10 http://bit.ly/a1KveM

  4. KlarkeKent

    RT @shamikdas: Who controls Cameron? RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10: http://bit.ly/93HSrO

  5. Mike O'Brien

    RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10: http://bit.ly/93HSrO

  6. DemocracyFail

    RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10 http://bit.ly/a1KveM

  7. Steve Virgin

    RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10 http://bit.ly/a1KveM

  8. Paul Evans

    Surprise surprise! The revolving door between News International and No. 10 http://bit.ly/d2QLWZ

  9. Murray Christison

    RT @DemocracyFail: RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10 http://bit.ly/a1KveM

  10. Brian Moylan

    RT @shamikdas: Who controls Cameron? RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10: http://bit.ly/93HSrO

  11. pixie jade

    Newscorp + no10 http://bit.ly/a21ubv. Via @leftfootfwd cons

  12. Eddy Anderson

    RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10 http://bit.ly/a1KveM [This is some seriously good journalism]

  13. Mr. Sensible

    not at all surprised…

  14. Nick H.

    RT @DemocracyFail: RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10 http://bit.ly/a1KveM

  15. David M Watson

    RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10: http://bit.ly/93HSrO

  16. Vegan Panda

    RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10: http://bit.ly/93HSrO

  17. Sean Hurl

    RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10 http://bit.ly/a1KveM

  18. Chai and News

    The revolving door between News International and No. 10 | Left …: Information obtained through Parliament has r… http://bit.ly/diiPlc

  19. NewLeftProject

    RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10: http://bit.ly/93HSrO

  20. Simon

    They have to get their instructions somehow.

  21. Ed

    Honestly, do you really think this was different under new labour/ would be under Ed Milliband?

  22. Paul Burgess

    RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10 http://bit.ly/a1KveM

  23. KINOWORDS

    RT @PaulDBurgess: RT @leftfootfwd: The revolving door between News International and No. 10 http://bit.ly/a1KveM

  24. Peter Carrol

    If you take this data in terms of the number of newspapers owned by NI and their readership share, the number of meetings they have is not at all disproportionate.

    NI owns 4 national daily papers, the guardian 2, and the mail 2. NI had around double the amount of meetings of both of those media groups, which reflects their number of papers compared to their rivals.
    In fact, I would say that the guardian is getting far too many meetings, considering the combined daily readership of the Observer and Guardian is about 500,000, while news international is about 8 million (when the average circulation of their four titles combined).

    Is there a Liberal bias at Number 10…? These figures suggest this could well be the case

  25. Are top ministers avoiding meeting with NGOs? « The Thoughtful Campaigner

    […] Compare that to meetings with Rupert Murdoch, Phizer, Facebook and Wikimedia, amongst others that the PM has had and it shows more of an enthusiasm to meet with foreign companies and representatives of News International. […]

  26. Radical ideas for a progressive majority: Making the media more accountable | Left Foot Forward

    […] – falling well short of the extensive Register of Members’ Financial Interests or the Ministerial and SPAD travel, gifts and hospitality lists. Though inextensive, the lobby register does reveal just how many pies the BBC’s Daily […]

  27. Government rhetoric on transparency doesn't match the reality | Left Foot Forward

    […] government was “just a con”, after the prime minister told John Mann MP that ministers’ meetings and hospitality records would only be published every three […]

  28. Altany

    Don't be surprised abt the news of Cmrn's many meetings with News Int; we blogged abt it last Oct: http://t.co/zJNxtbG #hackgate #NewsCorpse

  29. Sunday Times stoop to new low with poll asking if Ed Miliband is "too ugly" | Left Foot Forward

    […] The revolving door between News International and No. 10 – Liam R Thompson, October 28th […]

Leave a Reply